Frequently asked questions regarding relocation and consent when it comes to minor children
Relocation – Are you planning on relocating to another country or moving to a different province within South Africa with your minor child? Are you concerned about the issue of consent from the other parent? Below are some frequently asked, and related questions on the topic. We would encourage you to post and answer some of the questions, or just leave a comment.
Parents often decide to relocate with their minor children. However, they do not always understand the legal requirements and implications involved. For example, can they just leave the country with the minor child or do they require the other parents’ consent? Furthermore, if consent is required and refused; what are the remedies available to that parent? With regard to the issue of moving from one province to another, unless a court order stipulates otherwise, consent is not required. However, the relocation from one province to another could have an effect on existing parental responsibilities and rights. Under these circumstances, a variation of the court order would be warranted.
There are therefore also other issues involved when it comes to relocation. For example, what contact would the other parent who remains in South Africa have to the minor children after relocation? The aforementioned questions and a range of other related questions may be posed and answered below. Feel free to post your question should this blog post not have answered it.
Can I move from South Africa to the United Kingdom with my child without the father’s permission?
If the father has parental responsibilities and rights of guardianship, his consent is required for the relocation to the United Kingdom. For example, if the father and the mother were married, then under those circumstances unless an order of court determines otherwise, the father’s consent is required. If the father was not married to the mother, but in a long term relationship when the child was born, and involved in the child’s life after birth, then his consent under the circumstances would also be required.
What do I do if the father refuses to consent to relocate to Germany?
If a parent refuses to provide the necessary consent for relocation to another country, in this case, Germany, then the Court must be approached. Basically, you would ask the court to dispense with the requirement of the father’s consent. The court would determine the case based on what is best for the minor children involved.
What type of care and contact would the other parent exercise if I relocate to Saudi Arabia?
In this digital age, there is no reason why a parent cannot have regular contact to his or her child if they live in different countries. Usually, contact would take place via Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or other digital means. Email and other messaging services are also effective. When the children returns for holidays or the parent visits them overseas, then contact should be reasonable. For example, a few days with the non-custodial parent.
May I relocate with my child to Canada or the United States?
You may relocate with your minor child to Canada, the United States, or to any other country if you have the father’s consent. However, consent is not always required if the father does not have guardianship rights. If you were married to the father or he was involved in the child’s life, by visiting and paying maintenance, then his consent would be required.
My child does not have a passport. Do I require the father’s consent to obtain one?
In terms of the Children’s Act, if a father has parental responsibilities and rights of Guardianship, his consent is required for the minor child’s application for a passport. If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, more than likely the Department of Home Affairs would insist on having his consent.
Can a mother move a child away from the father?
Under normal circumstances, a mother cannot move a child away from the father. However, if it is in the child’s best interest, it will be allowed. It is best to obtain a court order dealing with the parties’ parental responsibilities and rights under the circumstances. Alternatively, a social worker or childcare expert should have advised the mother that that would be in the child’s best interest.
When can a child legally decide which parent to live with?
In South Africa, a child is no longer under the guardianship of a parent when he or she turns 18 (eighteen) years old. Therefore when the child turns 18 (eighteen) years old, he or she can decide where he wants to stay, and with whom he wants to stay. The same applies in the case of the relocation. The father’s consent would not be required should the minor child decide to relocate to another country with a mother. The opposite also applies.
Can I get a passport for my child without the father’s consent?
In terms of South African law, both guardians’ consent is required for a child applying for a passport. Therefore, if the father is a holder of guardianship, his consent is required. The Department of Home Affairs may insist on the father being present at their offices to give consent.
Can I move with my child without the father’s permission?
If you wish to move to a different province or to a different city within South Africa; technically you do not require the father’s permission unless there is a Court Order stating that you require his consent.
Can I change my child’s last name without the father’s consent?
The Department of Home Affairs would require both parents’ consent. If the child has the father’s surname, you would definitely require the father’s consent. If the mother remarried and wants the child to have the surname of the step-father, and the child currently has a mother’s maiden surname, then in those circumstances the Department of Home Affairs might decide not to persist with the father’s consent if he cannot be found.
Can a mother take a child out of the country without the father’s permission?
This depends on whether or not the father has guardianship rights over the minor child. If the father has guardianship rights over the minor child then, he would require the mother’s consent. Furthermore, the Department of Home Affairs would require the father’s consent before the child may leave the Republic of South Africa if the father has guardianship rights.
Can I take my child overseas without the child’s father’s permission?
If the father has rights of guardianship over the child then you require his permission to take the child out of the Republic of South Africa. This applies whether or not you intend to relocate to another country or you would like to take the child away on a holiday.
Can a mother move a child away from the father in South Africa?
A parent (in this case the mother) has to always act in the child’s best interest. However, under certain circumstances, the mother may have to move to a different province or to another country. Under those circumstances, the court would look at what is best for the minor child. Should the child remain in the province or in the country with the other parent who cannot care for him or her? Obviously not, unless the situation warrants it. Those are the factors that the court would have to look at.
May grandparents take the minor child abroad?
Yes, a grandparent may take a minor child abroad. However, the grandparent would require the consent of both the minor child’s parents if they are both guardians.
Can I get my child a passport without the father’s consent?
In terms of the Children’s Act, both guardians are required to give consent for the minor child’s application for a passport. Therefore, if the father has guardianship rights over the minor child, then his consent is required.
Can a mother terminate a father’s parental rights when she moves overseas?
A mother cannot terminate a father’s parental rights and responsibilities. Even if she moves overseas, she can’t. Only a court of law can do that. However, it is possible under certain circumstances that the father does not have parental responsibilities and rights. In those cases, he can acquire parental responsibilities and rights if he gets involved in the child’s life.
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